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Alice Barnes 'in a good place' ahead of double nationals defence

Alice Barnes wins stage 3
British national champion Alice Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) (Image credit: Setmana Ciclista Valenciana/Twitter)

Alice Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) heads into next week’s British National Championships as the defending champion in both the women’s road race and time trial, and the 26-year-old is hoping that her track record in Lincoln – where the championships will be held – will prove important as she hopes to retain her titles.

Barnes, currently building her form the Women’s Tour stage race, finished second to Lizzie Deignan in the women’s elite road race when the British Championships were held in Lincoln back in 2015, and she is also a two-time winner of the Lincoln Grand Prix.

The British nationals were cancelled in 2020 due to the global pandemic and have been bumped from their typical slot in June to mid-October and Barnes believes that the move could prove to be a factor in the racing.

“It’s an interesting one having them in October, especially after such a long season,” Barnes told Cyclingnews ahead of stage 4 of the Women’s Tour.

“A lot of the people here are racing nationals but I think that it will be a fun race, especially going back to Lincoln, where I have some fond memories. I was second there to Lizzie and took the U23 jersey, and I’ve won the Lincoln Grand Prix twice, so I’ve done quite well there.”

Barnes has been on the road since March this year with a busy campaign that included the cobbled Classics, several major stage races, the World Championships, and the first-ever edition of Paris-Roubaix Femmes. She is currently building her form at the Women’s Tour, where she took an impressive fourth in the individual time trial on stage 3.

“I’ve still got a few more stages here, so we’ll see how the form is coming out of this race but the form is in a good place,” Barnes said. “It’s hard to know in the middle of a stage race if you’re tired but I think it will be alright.”

Barnes admitted that she would not check out the time trial course ahead of the race but that she would be focused on both of her title defences. The road race will be a difficult race to control, especially as Barnes goes into the race with just her sister, Hannah Barnes, as her one and only teammate. There will be stacked fields for both the road race and the time trial with truly elite fields taking part in both races.

“I’ve not seen the national time trial course. I probably won’t ride it until I race it but I think it’s quite a technical course. I’m happy with where things are going and I think that there are still a few things that I can work on going into nationals,” she said. “It’s just stuff like being on the start line for quite a while ahead of the time trial. I just had café-legs from the start really and then my second split was much better than my first. It’s things like that, that I need to think about ahead of next week.

“I’ll give my best to both of them. The road race is more of a team thing, although there’s just me and my sister. We’ll see how we feel on the day and just go from there. It’s always a difficult race to predict, nationals but it’s also a difficult course, and last time that we raced there for nationals it was a small group from early on.

“I think it will be an easy race to split up if riders want to do that. October is very different from June in terms of how you’d feel. British females have really improved and that’s great to see. Hopefully, we can make it an exciting race.”

 Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.